SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE 37.03 Ben Stiller & Foster The People

A solid episode keeps Season 37 on a good foot (so far). Besides, how can it go wrong when Ass Dan returns?!

Johnny Firecloudby Johnny Firecloud

Alright SNL, I see that effort. The attention to detail. The recurring spoof-ad commercials. You're on your game so far this season – but seriously. It's time to fire your sound guy. Sure, Foster The People had about as much place being broadcast to millions while playing Saturday's musical guest as Kreayshawn does, but their inefficiencies pale to the utter hack job SNL's sound guy has been doing to the music for time untold. The mix is atrocious, the levels are all off and far better performances by the same band only days later on other shows (see: Radiohead on Colbert) illustrate the glaring ineptitude.

With that little rant out of the way, this week's Ben Stiller-led episode of SNL was pretty damn solid, with Jason Sudeikis stepping up hard in an MVP role for the many skits he took part in. On the cold open, Sudeikis' take on Mitt Romney was relatively benign, but arrogant and clueless enough to make us hate him. Moynihan's take on engorged candidate-flirtation magnet Chris Christie was great, a hot slab of badass as he promised to run in 2016 after he "makes a couple things go away first" in true Sopranos style.

As for Stiller's entry and monologue, the man simply has limited gravity, and the goofy awkwardness of his Yom Kippur jokes went over relatively well, despite the studio audience's general lack of initial response. He'd been fasting all day, he said, and began to feel woozy before Andy Samberg arrived dressed as Willy Wonka to take him to a magical world of Jewish food. Weird.

The first gold of the night was struck with the spoof Liberty Financial ad:

Aboard an airplane, Sudeikis meets himself as a man 25 years older, and just as we discover we're in a banking commercial the elder Jason attempts to molest himself. With a little coercion, things get gross in a hurry. Then it happens a second time, later in the show, when Bill Hader meets his much fatter, much smellier and broke self, who's flying to Hawaii to kill himself. The making-out-with-yourself plan doesn't quite work out this time around, but the "Get to know your future self" tag at the end sure hits home.

Then, a third time, Stiller finds his future self, who's undergone a sex change. The first thing he does is reach out to grab her boobs. SO TYPICAL!  I kid. But I don't.

Fox & Friends: The strongest of the week’s live skits was a silly skewering of the Fox News morning show, and their coverage of the blossoming Occupy Wall Street movement. The best line undoubtedly went to Bobby Moynihan’s Brian Kilmeade, weighing in on the dangers of mob mentality: “I once thought I was following a crowd of people into Yankee Stadium, but it turns out I was in a breast-cancer walk. When it was over, I was 10 miles from my car, and I had to take a bus home.”

Runner-up: "The protesters are costing the city of New York one trillion dollars a day." Even without the stupid Hank Williams Jr. bit (another Sudeikis spot), this one was all win.

"These protesters want anarchy – all the Tea Party ever wanted was no government." My god, if there were ever a more fitting take on the rampant hypocrisy of hype in the news media…

Samberg is far more charming in his second character turn as Hugh Jackman with the Wolverine sideburns, running through a talk show/showtunes talent show hybrid. The entire skit is worth it for Hader's Clint Eastwood impression, but Hugh Jackman actually shows up as Daniel Radcliffe in full Harry Potter oddity, and shares a volley with his fake self that barely escapes its own awkwardness.

Sudeikis leads the band into the real commercials with his full Hank Williams Jr. getup and a blasting "Are You Ready For Commercials?!" – Then, the return of our favorite Juggalo-inspired event series, the Underground Festival: Columbus Day. Ass Dan Returns!

The ridiculous scenarios for DJ Supersoak and Lil Blaster’s latest event includes a trio of Hispanic prostitutes (Nina, Pinta and Scuzzy Beth), Ben Stiller’s spiritual guru and "The Power of Now" author Eckhart Tolle, and the announcement of the Taco Bell dog’s next project (dying).

After an utterly atrocious performance by Foster The People, Weekend Update brought us back to the funny – however, Stiller's exhumation of the Zoolander character was tired and, frankly, pretty dumb. Still though, I'm sure I wasn't the only one who felt a certain balance to the universe occur when Stefon and Zoolander met.

They should just make Stefon the full-time Weekend Update anchor. No offense Seth, but the straight-laced snark could use an update.

In all, the third installment from the new season was quite a solid episode, with strong cast characters, a game-for-anything host and writing that continues to improve. Now if they would only get rid of that sound guy…

CraveOnline Rating: 8 out of 10